As the 2011-12 season has come to a close, the time has come to evaluate what it meant for the Capitals, both as a team and as individuals. As such, as the summer progresses, I will be writing a report card, or individual evaluation, for each player who played in 9 (~10%) of the team’s games, or 4 playoff games. Next up is defenseman Mike Green, who finished his seventh season in the Capitals organization on this past campaign.
Season Summary: Ouch. After a red-hot start that saw him post six points in his first seven games, Green got hurt in a game against Detroit on October 22 and would play just three times between that game and February 18th because of a sports hernia that the Capitals finally decided to use surgery to fix. When he re-entered the lineup, he was a shadow of his former self, posting two points, a goal and an assist, in the final 22 games of the season. All told, Green played in 32 games, a career low for a full season, putting up three goals, four assists, a plus-five rating, and 12 penalty minutes. Despite all of this, however, he was the Caps’ best puck possessor on the back end by a full four shots per 60 minutes at 4.45; this was also the fourth-best number on the entire roster. He did this against the fifth-easiest competition among defensemen, but he was also a bit lucky with a PDO of 1024. Grade: C
Role Play: Green’s offensive output has now fallen drastically two seasons in a row following back-to-back nominations for the Norris Trophy in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Make no mistake, injuries have played a big role in that, but for what Green is being paid, and what the team relies on him to do, he has got to be better with tangible results, period. It didn’t help him that he saw little power play time under Dale Hunter (because why wouldn’t you want one of the most prolific power play quarterbacks in the NHL over the last four seasons to run your man advantage), but that is not an excuse for two points in 22 games. Green’s defensive game continued to improve, but he’s not a defensive defenseman. He’s an offensive one who is expanding his defensive capabilities, and he didn’t do the first part of that this year. He was not up to par this year, coming up short of expectations. Grade: C-
Playoffs: Green’s playoffs were, like his regular season, not terrible but not up to his standards, either. The Calgary native posted two goals and two assists, including a dramatic power play game winner in game six against the Rangers, in 14 games, to go along with a plus-five rating and ten penalty minutes. His corsi fell to the middle of the pack among DC blueliners at -14.71, and he accomplished this against middle of the pack competition as well. For the most part, Green continued to prove the notion that he is a “playoff choker” totally and completely false. Grade: B
Future Potential: You might think that Green’s future with Washington is in limbo, but in all likelihood, it’s not. A restricted free agent, the Capitals must give Green a qualifying offer of $5.25 million in order to retain his rights and have him play one more season in Capital red. This is the correct move. Trading him would not generate his proper return after a poor season, and letting him walk by not giving him a QO would be very poor asset management. Green has struggled with injuries, yes. He is still a supremely talented defenseman who has proved himself at the NHL level and is not “done” at the age of 27. What’s more, if Green were to leave, the only two offensive defensemen left on the Washington’s roster (providing Dennis Wideman leaves, a very likely and good scenario) would be Dmitry Orlov and John Carlson. Are you comfortable with leaving all of the puck pushing minutes to a third-year player and a second-year player for a team with Cup aspirations? I didn’t think so. Grade: B+
The next report card will feature winger Troy Brouwer.
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